This is a move that some were speculating about earlier this week when it was announced Sproles was going to be either traded or released from New Orleans. Here's what I wrote at the time:
I'm not sure if the Eagles will have interest in giving up an asset for a 31-year old Sproles. The Eagles had interest in Sproles when he was a free agent a couple years ago, but times have changed. Sproles wouldn't offer much as a runner, which is fine because the Eagles already have a lot of depth there. But where Sproles could benefit the Eagles is a pass catcher out of the backfield and a kick returner.
Sproles, 31, isn't necessarily the runner he used to be but he can still catch the ball out of the backfield and when he lines up in the slot. Peep this stat from PFF:
Sproles will eat into some McCoy snaps. But no reason both can't be on field together. Sproles spent 39.1% of snaps split out wide/ in slot— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 13, 2014
And then this one from the NFL:
While we're at it, take a look at how Sproles finished amongst other NFL running backs as a receiver last year: 3rd in catches, 3rd in yards, 6th in YAC, and tied for 10th in TD catches.
According to PFT, the Eagles gave up their 2014 5th round pick to get the deal done. The Eagles had two 5th round picks to begin with due to the Isaac Sopoaga trade with the Patriots. In other words, the Eagles just traded Isaac Sopoaga (who was cut by the Patriots yesterday) and their 6th for Darren Sproles. Not bad! This leaves the Eagles with a total of 6 draft picks as it stands now.
It remains to be seen what this means for the Eagles' running back picture. The Eagles already have the best running back in the league in LeSean McCoy. Behind him, Chris Polk and Bryce Brown are returning to the Eagles in what will be their third season in the NFL. Some have mused that Brown could be traded this offseason, but to this point that is merely just speculation. It's worth noting the Eagles carried up to four running backs on their roster last year.
Sproles is on the last year of his contract. He's set to make $3.4 million (with a $100,000 workout bonus) in 2014. He will become an unrestricted free agent after the season.